During the first practice day of the 2012 Pikes Peak Hill Climb we checked out Monster Tajima's new electric-powered E-runner and watched the Vintage and Exhibition divisions roar up the mountain. Our second day, however, was reserved for the fastest of the groups – Unlimited, Time Attack and Open Wheel – which were running in the bottom portion of the course that determines qualifying times.
While one might think that the Unlimited class would be less interesting without Monster Tajima and Rhys Millen in the mix, this year's grouping is perhaps more intriguing than ever. Two Ford RS200s are entered this year, Lovefab Motorsports has brought its radical 850-horsepower Acura NSX and the open-cockpit Palatov Motorsport D4 Pikes Peak Special is making its debut.
Some of the usual names have come back as well. Paul Dallenbach is aiming to take down the overall record once again with an updated version of his turbocharged 1,400-horsepower winged monster, and Jean-Philippe Dayraut has returned for a second year with his Nissan GT-R-powered Dacia Duster. The Frenchman looked quick enough to easily improve on his overall time of 10:17.707 set last year, setting the fastest time of the day with segment time of 3:54.96. Dallenbach was second fastest with a time of 3:59.70, followed by David Donner in the Palatov Motorsport entry with a 4:10.31.
Returning to Time Attack (2WD and AWD have been combined for 2012) after competing in the Unlimited division for the last two years, Rhys Millen is looking to take back the class record set by his father, Rod Millen, last year. To do so he's brought an updated version of his Hyundai Genesis Coupe race car fitted with a new engine and wider body that can fit larger tires. The changes seem to have made a positive effect, as Millen blew away the Time Attack competition with a segment time of 4:06.24 – the fourth fastest of any class. Four-time SCCA World Challenge GT champion Randy Pobst was second fastest, putting in a run of 4:22.75 in his 2001 Audi A4, followed by David Kern's 2005 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution with a 4:25.23.
We'll have more coverage of the Unlimited and Time Attack classes when they take on the middle section of the course tomorrow morning for the third and final practice day. Until then, browse through our photos from today in the gallery above and check out the video of Millen's qualifying run below.